Savanna High mascot no longer Johnny Rebel: Anaheim school cuts Confederate symbol

Savanna High School auditorium. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Savanna High School’s nickname will continue to be Rebels but the school board decided to remove any perception of ties the Anaheim school’s mascot, Johnny Rebel, has to the Confederacy.

After hearing from about two dozen students and alumni during a special board meeting Monday held on the campus, district trustees opted to follow the wishes of the student body and re-brand the mascot to eliminate references to a Civil War-era soldier, The Orange County Register reported.

The issue was posed to the students in October in what the Anaheim Union High School District Board of Trustees considered a “teachable moment” for students and resulted in Monday’s special meeting in which the decision was made to re-brand.

Exactly what re-branding will entail has not been specified, but a district estimate puts the cost of changes at $51,000, according to The Register.

More than 130 people gathered for the meeting.

Jeanne Tenno, a member of the first graduating class in 1963, spoke through tears as she explained the slogan “Rebel Pride” was about cleaning up the campus, being kind to fellow students and having an award-winning marching band, The Register reported.

“We did not celebrate the South,” Tenno said. “We celebrated our sports victories and stood together in defeat.”

Others who attended, including students and residents, asked the board to change the mascot as they believed the imagery could be perceived as being linked to the Confederacy, which they considered offensive.

Students researched and discussed the issue in classes before holding a campus vote in which 56 percent supported making changes to the mascot rather than leaving it in place or removing it entirely, according to The Register.

At Monday’s meeting, people spoke in favor of all three options, but most of those who addressed the school board said the mascot should be altered or replaced, the newspaper reported.

Bianca Garcia, a 2009 Savanna graduate, said Johnny Rebel is a symbol of support for the Confederacy, according to the newspaper.

“No one should glorify a man who agrees with slavery or doesn’t stand against it,” Garcia said.

Savanna’s mascot debate comes amid conversations around the nation about monuments commemorating people and events tied to the Civil War and whether they are honoring history or perpetuating a legacy of discrimination.

—City News Service